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Is Inclusion a Feeling, Behavior, or Culture? (Hint: It's not all three)

Recently, I conducted a quick poll on LinkedIn, asking people how they define inclusion. Here at Mattingly, we have strong opinions about how to conceptualize inclusion but we asked others whether they define inclusion as a feeling, a behavior, a culture or all of the above. The results of the poll are below:

I was so surprised to see that a whopping 81% voted that inclusion was all three! This is all too reflective of the challenges faced by those working in the DEI space.

When looking to improve inclusion in any organization, the first task has to be figuring out what exactly inclusion is. From there, you are able to measure it, see where you need to improve, and track your progress over time.

What is inclusion?

Here at Mattingly, we have a focus on narrowing down inclusion to something measurable in order to make those real changes. If inclusion is a culture AND a feeling AND a behavior, assessing it becomes impossible. And what exactly does it mean to feel included? To have an inclusive culture? How can that be tangibly measured and, further, improved?

Inclusion, therefore, is about BEHAVIOR. It is about the everyday actions that can be taken to make others feeling valued, seen, and heard. Measuring inclusion, then, is about measuring these behaviors. How often do you experience them? From whom? In what settings? These specific details allow us to identify where things are going well and where things can be improved.

What is feeling included?

This is not to say that you cannot feel included or have an inclusive culture. Both of these ideas about inclusion are real and important. But that feeling of inclusion is really the construct of belongingness. Belonging is the feeling that one’s authentic self is valued, respected, seen, and heard, or the result of inclusive behaviors.

What is an inclusive culture?

An inclusive culture is one in which inclusive behaviors are supported, encouraged, and modeled from top leadership. We can see how that would be assessed by determining where the behaviors are happening and from whom. By targeting behavior, we are able to see if leadership is providing an environment in which inclusion can thrive, or an inclusive culture.

How do you assess inclusion?

So, now that we’ve defined inclusion, the next step is to begin measuring it so you can see how you’re doing and make improvements, because the journey to an inclusive organization is never done.

Here at Mattingly, we offer a measurement-based approach to understanding inclusion and belonging, our Mattingly Inclusion and Belonging Assessment (MIBA). The MIBA is our data-driven, scientifically backed approach to measuring DEI and belonging in your organization and providing you with tangible steps to take to move forward.

Contact Mattingly Solutions today to learn more about the Mattingly Inclusion & Belonging Assessment (MIBATM).


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